The late withdrawal of Louis Oosthuizen has shifted the full weight of the spotlight on two-time European Tour winner Dylan Frittelli at the Joburg Open which tees off on Thursday.
Frittelli will start the final event of the year at Randpark Golf Club as the bookies’ favourite (he was listed as second at 10-1 before Oosthuizen’s withdrawal) after his playoff heroics at Heritage Golf Club in Mauritius last week.
A final round 67 and a birdie on the first playoff hole (which India’s Arjun Atwal could only par) helped him add the AfrAsia Mauritius Open title to his Lyoness Open victory earlier in the season. Last week’s win followed up a T2 in Turkey and a T4 in the Race To Dubai finale which has seen Frittelli move up to 55th in the world rankings as he closes in on a place at The Masters.
A win this week, where he now heads the field in terms of world rankings, would help the new Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader inside the top 50 and book a spot at Augusta in April next year.
The Joburg Open – which has seen eight home champions in its last 11 events – has moved to Randpark where it will be played across the Bushwillow and Firethorn courses – something that will suit a player like Frittelli, who has no problems on long courses.
Four of the five events in South Africa in the 2017 European Tour season were won by local players (Brandon Stone, Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester, Branden Grace) but the in-form Frittelli’s record is iffy – 25-MC-16-12-42.
Fichardt is back to defend his crown and arrives on the back of a T16 finish last week with 2014 Joburg Open winner George Coetzee also teeing it up this week. Haydn Porteous, who won the this event in 2016, is another player ready for his next co-sanctioned win and will be a threat this week.
New European Tour members Erik Van Rooyen and Jacques Kruyswijk will be eyeing good weeks as they bid to join the list of SA winners on the European Tour.
Selected round one tee times:
07:10 – Jacques KRUYSWIJK, Marcus KINHULT, Aaron RAI
07:20 – Oliver BEKKER, Shaun NORRIS, Mikko KORHONEN
07:30 – Haydn PORTEOUS, Darren FICHARDT, Gavin GREEN
07:40 – Phachara KHONGWATMAI, George COETZEE, Matt WALLACE
07:55 – Scott FERNANDEZ, Dean BURMESTER, David DRYSDALE
09:20 – Casey O’TOOLE, Zack BYRD, Zander LOMBARD
10:45 – James MORRISON, Doug McGUIGAN, Erik VAN ROOYEN
10:55 – Jack MUNRO, Thomas AIKEN, David HOWELL
11:05 – Dylan FRITTELLI, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND, Cody MARTIN
Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images